California school district’s critical race theory ban, transgender notification policy stand for now, judge rules

A judge won’t block Temecula schools’ critical race theory ban and transgender notification policy.

Riverside Superior Court Judge Eric Keen on Friday morning, Feb. 23, denied requests for court orders seeking to stop the Temecula Valley Unified School District from enforcing the two controversial policies. Keen did not elaborate on his ruling during the court hearing.

Last week, Keen ruled the lawsuit, described as a groundbreaking challenge of a critical race theory ban, could move forward.

The lawsuit, filed in August, challenges a resolution approved on a 3-2 vote by the Temecula Valley school board in December 2022 that banned the teaching of critical race theory.

Board members Joseph Komrosky, Danny Gonzalez and Jen Wiersma, elected in 2022 as what was then a Christian conservative majority on the five-member board, voted in for the ban. Board members Allison Barclay and Steven Schwartz, who have often opposed initiatives of the board majority, voted no.

At the time, Gonzalez, Komrosky and Wiersma contended that critical race theory was too divisive for the classroom and teaches a victim mentality to students.

Critical race theory is defined by academics as a legal framework designed by scholars in the 1980s that explains how structural and racial disparities persist in American society.

Public Counsel, which sought the court injunction, said Temecula teachers “are self-censoring to avoid using the word ‘white’ when discussing subjects like Jim Crow segregation and European imperialism, and restricting their answers when students ask about anti-Black violence.”

“Forbidden from fully discussing racial oppression, Temecula’s educators have no way to accurately and supportively guide their students in difficult but necessary discussions of topics including slavery, segregation, colonialism and immigration,” argued Public Counsel, a self-described nonprofit public interest law firm.

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